2-5 players, 1 vs Many/Competitive
Designer: Marc Paquien
Artwork: Vincent Dutrait
Publisher: Gen-X Games
Overview of Gameplay
In Treasure Island one player plays as the infamous Long John Silver and hides his treasure somewhere on this rather large island. The other players play as pirates trying to locate said treasure before Mr. Silver escapes his tower prison and claims it for himself. This is done by the player posing as Long John Silver giving hints to all the other pirates over a course of a certain number of rounds based on how many players are playing. Those players will then take 1 to 2 actions depending on the round either moving or searching or both. Or they could use up some of their once or twice per game exclusive actions. Moving around they will use a dry erase marker and ruler to measure out the distance and draw a line showing their path so they can keep track of where they are searching.
Win Condition /Length
So the player on his or her own playing as Long John Silver will win if they successfully hide the treasure well enough and no one else finds it over the course of a certain number of rounds. As for the other pirates, well they just have to FIND this elusive treasure before LJS escapes and can claim it for himself. The game states a 45 minute playtime but I personally think that’s a little fast. I could see that for a group of experienced players that have played it a number of times AND if you don’t take any time to think. All of my games with various people have taken a little over an hour which honestly is still a good play length for a board game.
Setup for this one is pretty standard fare. Each player gets a screen to hide their precious hints and clues they receive and a particular colored dry erase marker to use. The player playing as LJS has the most stuff going on and not near enough space behind their screen. Luckily most of the stuff he uses are of the card variety and are facedown so you can set those out in the open. Takedown is pretty easy, the screens fold up nicely and everything fits in the box perfectly and easily. No complaints here.
Truth be told the components are the one thing that both kept me away from this game and ended up causing me to buy it. I remember watching a video for this game before it release and instantly was turned off because of the dry erase markers. I thought, “man these things are gonna be messy and a pain and dry out” etc etc. A buddy of mine ended up getting it and I played his copy and was blown away by the other components such as the mini treasure chest. That little thing is awesome. It’s all glossy and well, it’s a fricken tiny treasure chest! And my fears were squished with the dry erase markers as well during that play. They were not bad at all and erased easily (almost too easily actually).
All the components are of a great quality as a matter of fact. The cards are all laminated with the same stuff everything else in the game is and can be written on with the dry erase markers and cleaned easily which honestly gives them a more premium feel than your typical slick game cards. The game also comes packed with a wooden drafting compass writing tool that you can attach a marker in for writing on the game board map. Apart from that there is a ruler and a couple plastic circles that you use for searching. These are all used with the markers to write directly on the game board and over time really brings life to the board with all the inscriptions on it from all the players.
The board itself is double sided with one side being more brightly colored and vibrant and the other side having a more muted color scheme. I can tell you that it is really hard to see some of the dry erase colors on the vibrant side such as the green and blue, the orange and red really stand out however.
The box was another thing that really stood out to me as it doesn’t have an insert that you would normally see in a board game. At first glance you would think it was one of those throw away cardboard inserts that is just in there to hold punchboards for transport. However one whole end of this is a secret compartment that opens up! I mean it’s not anything super fancy but it’s really cool that there is a kind of hard cardboard lid that lifts to create a holding compartment for some of the components like the cards. Heck I just toss my cards in there and not bag them and it holds them together really well. The box is standard size and can be stored vertically pretty well without stuff going everywhere in the box, most in part thanks to that hidden compartment.
Visual Appeal /Theme
This is a big part to this particular game. I mean the theme isn’t anything new per say but the way the gameplay works along with the theme really makes it stand out. Visually the game does look nice especially on the vibrant colored board side. It’s just a shame that some of the included markers can barely be seen on the board because of those colors. The muted side is ugly but might be better gameplay wise for some. I’m glad they chose to do this however and was a very good choice to give the option.
Ugh. This rule book is all over the place. Setting up was difficult and actually playing was even more difficult for the first time. Heck 3 plays in and I’m still getting confused on some things. I almost feel like this game was written by the same people who developed the game and has played it a million times. I don’t know how many times I see this and wish that developers would just have an outside party proofread the rulebook and go through the game before they release it. Because holy moly this thing is convoluted. I think they tried to make the rulebook more thematic instead of learning and that lends to most of the problem. That said the game isn’t terribly hard to play and is pretty straight forward. It’s just the rulebook does a poor job in trying to explain how to play properly.
Table Talk/Fun Factor
This is an interesting point to the game. The table talk in the game is very secretive and suspicious and I love it. See every pirate is out for themselves to get that delicious treasure, hence the screens protecting their info. BUT at the same time they all want to make sure they get it before LJS escapes his tower prison and gets it for himself. So there can be some table talk with the other pirates eluding to where they THINK the treasure is but of course not too much info given or heck even lying to throw off potential prospects. That said if multiple pirates are searching in one particular part of the map then it might behoove you to join them as they might be on to something.
The fun isn’t just with the pirate players though. Mr. Silver has his own bit of strategy as well to contend with. Each round that you have to give a hint is critical for his success. You see you draw 3 cards from a particular draw pile of hints for the other pirates. Then you choose one of the three to unleash on them and these usually have to do with distance to the treasure in some degree or the direction the treasure is in. You play the card on the board face up and then play a token facedown under it. This token is either a check mark (which means you are telling the truth) OR a question mark (which means you COULD be lying). The pirates each have a once per game ability to “verify” the token for themselves to see if you are potentially lying or telling the truth. The rub is, even if it is a question mark, they don’t know if you lied or not. You only have 2 of these throughout the entire game so you have to be very strategic on when you use them.
Optimal Player Count
The more the merrier in this game. I can tell you though unless you have a seasoned player playing Long John Silver, the other pirates will more than likely win. This is due in part to knowing when and what clues to play as LJS. A new player going in can end up giving away a LOT of info regarding where the treasure is located very quickly if they are not careful. I mean that card says “reveal only 2 miles away from deep ocean no treasure” but good gravy that takes a huge chuck out of the game board. And combined with other clues, the game board becomes very small indeed. I tried playing with 2 players but again the rule book wasn’t exactly specific on what to do with 2 players. It said to use 3 pirates…and that was basically it. Like ok? Do I also get all their specific powers? Do I use 3 different colored markers for each of them? Do they takes their turns normally? Another example of the terrible rulebook.
I really liked this game. It is unique enough that it fills a nice niche in my collection and is fun to bring out with a group of friends. It plays decently fast and I actually like the use of the dry erase markers which I didn’t think I would going in. The components are fantastic and the game board looks great although marker color visibility is a problem on one of the sides of the board. The insert is great but the rulebook is just atrocious and really needs to be redone. I suggest trying to find a how to play video online if you want to learn this one. Luckily it’s not an incredibly deep game so it can be picked up rather quickly.